Weblog Helma Hellinga
16 February 2009
What is the new urban renewal?
Nobody knows. It seems it has something to do with certain neighbourhoods, which for
various reasons are considered as problem neighbourhoods. The Dutch government
considers the large area of the Amsterdam Western Garden Cities (Westelijke
Tuinsteden) as a problem neighbourhood. This
'neighbourhood' houses almost a hundred thousand people, about a seventh of the population
question is: what kinds of neighbourhood problems are we are talking about? Well, that is
not so clear. Characteristic of this lack of clarity is, that the number of problem
neighbourhoods changes at every change of government. Often the problems are blamed on the
migrants, but not always. In
measures, taken in the name of 'urban renewal', are drastic: thousands of mostly post-war
houses, in more or less good condition, are demolished in Amsterdam-West alone, about
13.000 of the original stock of 47.000. The idea is to demolish the problem areas.
'Demolishing from a social point of view', an
So the primary aim is not to provide the people in these neighbourhoods the chances for a better future, but to 'upgrade' the neighbourhood, so it will become attractive for another class with more money and more acceptable behaviour. Yet the housing corporations and politicians do their utmost to give the inhabitants the idea that all these measures are to their advantage. They tell the inhabitants that they can return to the neighbourhood in new and better housing whilst knowing that most of the new-build will be beyond their means. They say to those inhabitants who resist eviction: "You want your children to stay in the neighbourhood? Your children want better houses." Of course many inhabitants want to live near their children. They also say, that building better houses will keep the better off inhabitants in the neighbourhood.
These are all very generous and social aims. But when this social fog has cleared, it appears that the dispossessed Amsterdam-Moroccan family has found alternative housing by themselves, after the long period of uncertainty about the fate of their houses. Sometimes such families find a house in a neighbourhood that is also due for subsequent demolition, so they have to withstand the misery another time. Once they have left the neighbourhood, nobody cares for them anymore and they have to solve their own problems.
The new urban renewal is not meant to be a solution for the problems of these inhabitants, unlike the old urban renewal of the seventies. It is meant to create showy neighbourhoods, as benchmarks for political careers and housing corporations.
4 September 2009
September already and I didn't write anything on this 'weblog'. This doesn't work. The reason is that since I have Vista, I cannot download my webprogram Frontpage. So I have to use someone else's computer to make changes in my site. But now I found a solution for this weblog in using a special blogpage on the website. Next week or so you can find my new blogs on: